Wild Thing (the Troggs song)
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|Single by the Troggs|
|Released||22 April 1966|
|Studio||Olympic Sound, London|
|The Troggs UK singles chronology|
|The Troggs US singles chronology|
"Wild Thing" is a song written by American songwriter Chip Taylor and popularized by the English rock band the Troggs. The Troggs' single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the UK Singles Chart in 1966. The song was originally recorded and released by the American rock band the Wild Ones in 1965 but it did not chart.
The Wild Ones
The Wild Ones were the house band at the New York City nightclub Arthur, set up by socialite Sybil Christopher, who had married the band's former lead singer Jordan Christopher. Although they had issued an album, it was not as successful as the band had hoped, and their producer Gerry Granahan contacted Chip Taylor to ask him to write a song for them to release as a single. Taylor explained:
I started just chuggin’ away on a couple of chords and within a couple of minutes of getting off the phone I had the chorus and I was kind of likin’ it. I didn’t really know what I was going to say in between but I was thinking there was something cool and sweaty about this. So I went to the studio ... Because it was a sexual-kind-of-feeling song, I didn’t want to be embarrassed, I wanted to let myself sing it, so I asked [producer] Ron [Johnson] to turn the lights out when I got there and have my stool ready and have my microphone ready and when I got there, I said, “Put the tape in record and just let it go and let me just keep playin' ... And then I stomped on a board, just to give a cool little edge to it and I banged on a tambourine and then Ron was foolin’ around. As the track was playing back, he was doing this little thing with his hands, like when you put a blade of grass in there and you get a whistling sound? Only he was able to it without the blade of grass in it. It sounded cool ... I listened back and I thought it sounded great. I was a little afraid to play it for people because it was so different than anything I’d done before; it wasn’t one of those pretty little country songs. And it was very sexy.
Granahan approved the song and produced the Wild Ones' recording, with vocals by Chuck Alden. However, on its release in November 1965 the record failed to sell, and Alden later said that he regretted not performing the song in the same way as Taylor's demo.
The Troggs' version
Because of a distribution dispute, the Troggs' single was available on two competing labels: Atco Records and Fontana Records. Because both pressings were taken from the identical master recording, Billboard combined the sales for both releases, making it the only single to simultaneously reach No. 1 for two companies.
On the Atco label, the author credits of both sides are reversed as "Wild Thing" is credited to Reg Presley (Troggs' lead vocalist) and its B-side, "With a Girl Like You", to Chip Taylor. On the Fontana label, "Wild Thing" is correctly credited to Chip Taylor and the flip contains a different song, "From Home", by Reg Presley. The Fontana label credits production to Page One Productions, England, while the Atco label credits production as "A Larry Page Production, Recorded in England". One further difference between the two singles is that there is a noticeable "click" on the Atco single after Presley says "You move me" and just before the music starts again; this click is edited out of the Fontana version.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart on issue date June 25, 1966. Two weeks later (July 9), it leaped from number 47 to number six. The song then rose to number two where it remained for the next two weeks (July 16 and July 23), while "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James and the Shondells occupied the top spot. On issue date July 30, 1966, "Wild Thing" hit number one where it remained for two weeks. The song ultimately logged eleven weeks on the chart, with eight of those weeks in the Top 10.
In Canada, the single (Fontana 1548) reached number two on the RPM Magazine charts on August 8, 1966.
"Wild Thing" has remained popular ever since the Troggs' hit single and has been recorded many times:
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience gave a dramatic performance of the song, at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. The performance was captured in the 1967 documentary Monterey Pop. Hendrix recorded the song live, as heard on the compilation album The Ultimate Experience. Hendrix lit his guitar on fire at the song's conclusion.
- In 1967, the novelty team of Senator Bobby released a version of "Wild Thing". Sung by comedian Bill Minkin in the verbal style of Democratic Senator Bobby Kennedy while a recording engineer is heard giving instructions, the stammering single charted at #20 in the United States. The flip side of the Senator Bobby 45 featured "Senator Everett McKinley" (an impression of Republican Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen) doing the same song; the initial voiceover by the recording engineer encourages Senator Bobby to respond to his "hit single" (the Senator Everett McKinley version also had some radio airplay at the time). The songs were credited to The Hardly-Worthit Players, and the Senator Bobby version was included as a bonus track on reissues of their 1966 Parkway LP called The Hardly-Worthit Report (the rest of the album is a comedic takeoff on the NBC national news broadcast The Huntley-Brinkley Report).
- The British group Fancy recorded a version of the song in 1974, which reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Comedian Sam Kinison recorded a novelty version in 1988 which reached number 18 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. The music video featured cameos from many well-known rock musicians including Jon Bon Jovi, Rodney Dangerfield, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Slash and Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses, Billy Idol, C.C. DeVille of Poison (American band), Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini and Robbin Crosby from Ratt, and Tommy Lee. The video also featured a raunchy "roll on the mat" dance with Jessica Hahn. Kinison's version changed the song to a blistering condemnation of the title subject, with lines such as "Why didn't you tell me you were a demon from Hell" and "The only thing that gets you off is to see me in pain."
- A recording by the Los Angeles-based punk band X was used in the 1989 film Major League and its 1994 sequel, Major League II.
- The Troggs recorded a new version in 1993, which peaked at number 87 in the UK Singles Chart.
- Australian rock duo Divinyls covered the song in 1993 for the soundtrack to the film Reckless Kelly. It peaked at No. 39 on the Australian Singles Chart.
In popular culture
- In 1994, the Troggs' version was used in the film D2: The Mighty Ducks and appears on the soundtrack album.
- The 1989 baseball film Major League used "Wild Thing" recorded by L.A. punk band X as the theme song for Rick Vaughn, the team's erratic starting/relief pitcher. Life soon imitated art, when the Philadelphia Phillies closer Mitch Williams adopted the song for his entrances from the bullpen, including in the 1993 World Series. During the late 2000s, the song was played at Fenway Park when Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon would come in from the bullpen.
- A version by Cheap Trick appears in the film Encino Man and its soundtrack album.
"Hanky Panky" by Tommy James And The Shondells
|Billboard Hot 100 number one single
"Wild Thing" by The Troggs
July 30, 1966
"Summer in the City" by The Lovin' Spoonful
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